Spiritual Leaders

Rabbi and Rebbetzin Glasman sml 180x180 - Rabbi Yaakov Glasman AM

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman AM

Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman received his Rabbinical Ordination in 2002 from the Rabbinical College of America and went on to complete his Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters in 2003. He served as the spiritual leader of the North Eastern Jewish Centre f

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or six years and in 2011 was appointed Senior Rabbi of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation.

Rabbi Glasman served as President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria from 2009 until 2012 and in 2017 he was elected President of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand. In 2020 he became the President of the Rabbinical Association of Australasia. He has a keen interest in Interfaith dialogue and presents to a wide variety of audiences on a range of topics. He has been an active voice against domestic violence and serves as a Community Partner for White Ribbon Australia and is an Ambassadr for the Unchain My Heart organisation. Yaakov enjoys public speaking and in 2018 he became the first religious leader invited to speak at TEDx Melbourne. In 2021 Rabbi Glasman was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to Judaism and interfaith dialogue, to rabbinical bodies, and to the community.

Yaakov is an avid and unashamed Collingwood supporter and always dresses in black and white.

Rebbetzin Sara Glasman has equally been an important part of the St Kilda Shule community. She engages regularly with members of the congregation (especially women) and assists Rabbi Glasman in a range of pastoral visits and celebratory times during the life cycle experiences of members of the congregation. She has a Bachelors Degree in Teaching and is passionate about Jewish education. Together, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Glasman have been blessed with five children.

Debbie Hillel Nagel 180x180 - Rabbi Hillel Nagel

Rabbi Hillel Nagel

Assistant Rabbi

Rabbi Hillel Nagel joined our Congregation in the latter part of 1996.
Hillel, who originally comes from Sydney, hails from a family who are steeped in Judaism and service to the Jewish Community.
Hillel took an active part in Congregational life in Sydney as a member of the Adass Yisroel Congregation and its youth activities. He also assisted with Kriat Hatorah and conducting Services at the Great Synagogue.

After completing his HSC with great distinction, Hillel left for the Kol Torah Yeshiva in Jerusalem where he devoted himself to Torah studies for two years.
Following his wedding, Hillel studied in Kollel Beis Yosef in Melbourne for a 1 year where he continued his Torah studies and then commenced his legal studies at Monash University. Hillel graduated in 2001 with a Commerce degree in accounting and Law degree with honours.

In 2006, he completed his Rabbinical studies under the guidance of Rabbi Doniel Chanan (Pirchei Shoshanim Yeshiva) and travelled to Israel to be tested and receive his Smicha (Rabbinical qualification).
At St Kilda Shule, Hillel assists Rabbi Glasman in many ways. He conducts many of our Services in a most beautiful and competent manner, assists with Kriat Hatorah from time to time and has shown great commitment to members of the Congregation, especially the youth. Hillel is the mainstay of our Youth services and he greatly enjoys the role of imparting his love and knowledge of Yiddshkeit to our youth.
On Friday evenings he acts as the “lolly man” at our Kabbalat Shabbat Services. Hillel also conducts a popular fortnightly shiur for adults on a wide range of Jewish topics.

Outside the Congregation, Hillel works as a full time corporate lawyer as a senior associate at Clarendon Lawyers.

Hillel, together with his wife, Debbie, and children, Meir, Sruly, Yocheved, Shloymi and Deena, are an integral part of our congregational life.

Rabbi Heilbrunn sml 180x180 - Emeritus Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn OAM

Emeritus Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn OAM

Emeritus Rabbi

Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn OAM, BA LLB, our Emeritus Chief Minister, was invited to become the spiritual leader of our Congregation in 1988 upon the retirement, of Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky AM. Building on the foundations laid by his long-serving predecessors, Rabbi Heilbrunn brought his own talents and warm welcoming style to St Kilda Shule. He motivated our Ministers, Board, the Shule administration and all our members to focus on furthering St Kilda Synagogue’s reputation as an inclusive congregation where all Jews feel at home. He reached out to all without judging them or their level of observance and warmly offered them opportunities to enrich the Jewishness of their lives. He endeared himself to the entire community and his great empathy with people brought joy to the many Simchas celebrated at our Shule while his caring compassionate approach were a great source of comfort in times of suffering and sadness.

Born in South Africa, Rabbi Heilbrunn was educated at the King David Schools, Linksfield Johannesburg, the South African Rabbis Training College, where he received Smicha (Rabbinical ordination), and Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand where he graduated with a B.A. in Legal Studies, Sociology and Industrial Sociology and went on to complete an LLB. He served as a Rabbi and lecturer in Jewish Studies in the Jewish Students University Programme in South Africa for several years.

The Heilbrunns, Pnina and daughters Gita and Talya, emigrated to Australia and Sydney’s North Shore Synagogue in 1979. Their daughters Estee and Adina are “Aussies” having been born in Sydney and Adelaide respectively.

Rabbi Heilbrunn was for six years the Chief Minister of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation where he achieved great distinction in reactivating South Australia’s Jewish Community. He successfully represented the Jewish community in the wider South Australian community at many levels.

Taking the lead from Rabbi and Pnina, the entire Heilbrunn extended family have been wholeheartedly involved in the life and activities of our Congregation.

Rabbi Heilbrunn is widely sought after as a speaker and lecturer on Jewish subjects and often writes and commentates for the media. Rabbi Heilbrunn completed a long and successful seven-year term as President of the Association of Rabbis of Australia and New Zealand and as the official spokesman for the Australian Rabbinate. Rabbi Heilbrunn continued the legacy of Rabbi Lubofsky AM of blessed memory as a pioneer in interfaith work and laid many of the foundations for the current successes in this area. He is a President of the Council of Christians and Jews of Victoria.

In Melbourne and the wider Victorian and Australian Jewish Community, Rabbi Heilbrunn stands out as one of our most senior and respected Rabbinic leaders and spokesmen. He was extremely active on the Rabbinical Council of Victoria for close to 24 years, served as Vice President to the late Rabbi Chaim Gutnick for over a decade and was honoured as the Council’s first Patron.

Rabbi Heilbrunn serves on many committees, especially in relation to Jewish education and communal affairs. His advice and counsel is widely sought by our members and throughout the Jewish community as well as the broader Australian community. When there was criticism of Jewish Organisations taking legal action against members of the Jewish Community, Rabbi Heilbrunn freely volunteered to personally and successfully to assist them with arbitration and other ADR solutions undertaking more than 100 cases. He has also assisted many organisations and individuals with expert evidence in court and to Government authorities.

Rabbi Heilbrunn is also an outstanding Chazan with an International reputation, a role which complements his Rabbinic accomplishments. Together with our Choir, Rabbi’s renditions created an unsurpassed atmosphere of beauty and inspiration in our services. Rabbi Heilbrunn’s Cantorial talents are widely sought and freely put at the disposal of the Jewish community. He regularly appears on the Concert stage or in our Synagogue’s celebrated Chazanut Concerts with other Chazanim, artists and choirs from around the world to share his beautiful tenor voice with his appreciative audiences. Together with the late Rabbi Lubofsky, Rabbi Heilbrunn co-founded the highly acclaimed Melbourne Jewish Male Voice Choir as its Principal Soloist and has been its President for a dozen years. Recently Rabbi produced a delightful twin set of recordings of many of his favourite renditions

In 2011 Rabbi Heilbrunn’s outstanding communal service was recognised both in the Victorian State and Federal Parliaments with major citations. He was honoured with an award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2011 for services to St Kilda Synagogue and the Jewish Community.

Rabbi retired on 31st July 2011 and he and Pnina were honoured with a testimonial Luncheon in recognition of their devotion to St Kilda Synagogue. As Chief Minister Emeritus Rabbi Heilbrunn has expressed his desire to remain close to our Synagogue and his friendship, assistance, experience and counsel are always available to the Congregation and his friends – our members.